4 Things You Must Do to Retire Early


The Michael Jordan of Early Retirement

When I first started reading about early retirement I couldn’t stop.  Mr. Money Mustache who has become the Michael Jordan of early retirement,makes it sound easy because for him it was.  MMM had the DIY/Frugal/Save Money/Badassity pumping through his veins early on so leasing a Range Rover, buying the HD Premier cable package, or buying the million dollar house on the block didn’t really occur to him as a need or want like so many of us today.  Putting it simple he didn’t want to be a rap superstar and live large, a big house, 5 cars, he just wanted to be in charge and retire early. One thing that many of us including myself completely miss when we hear early retirement is the details. All we hear is retire early, then our minds shift to not working in the Cubicle or Action Office as I found out, quitting the daily commute where road rage or getting close to the sweaty guy on the train is the norm, maybe you think of a hammock and Corona or maybe you dream of your last day wearing shorts and a Hawaiian shirt, because all you can think of is f*** this place, I’m out or like the kids are saying “Dueces”, but I think it’s pretty safe to say we skip over the 4 things You Must Do to Retire Early. Buckle up and put on our helmet’s.

  1. Stop Spending F***ing Money.  I curse for emphasis, Mrs. Even Steven says I should stop, but now “Stop Spending Money” has been emphasized.  You cannot create any more debt so if you think putting your vacation on your credit card that you will pay down over the next 18 months is a good idea for early retirement you my friend are a moron.  You cannot buy a new car because that will put you in debt and yep we would go back to the you my friend are a moron.  I hope I’m being clear not only for myself but for everyone. Yes I want the new 70 inch plasma TV to watch the NFL every Sunday, but you know what, buying that would make me a moron because I would go into debt. If you think any of these things will help you retire early, read the first

    Cute or Investment in your Future

    step until change your mind.

  2. Know Where Your Money is Going.  See less emphasis because I didn’t curse.  I’m not even sure if you are reading anymore.  Know Where Your F***ing Money is going.  OK everyone is back on board with me.  Unless you are some magical wizard, you know what forget that, even if you are a magical wizard you must know where your money is going, here’s why:  you might be spending too much, you might have a $500 car payment, you might have an addiction to Starbucks(aka the Evil Empire), who knows you might spend all of your money on beanie babies like Elvis over here thinking they are just to adorable or it’s your investment in the future.  The point is there is a lot of “You Might” which means you have no clue.  If you want to retire early you must know where your money is going.  You can create a budget by hand or on excel(I’m a nerd so this is fun), use some online tools like Mint or Personal Capital which seems to be the most common out there.
  3. You Have to Pay off Your Evil ManBear of Debt.  I found a work around for emphasis, no idea what a Manbear is but I have a couple ideas in my head and it’s scary.  Here’s where I get caught up the most.  I want to retire early, like yesterday, I want the process to speed up, I want to invest in stocks, bonds, index funds, oil, gold, my nieces lemonade stand, real estate, bit-coin, beanie babies, and swamp land in Florida.  The problem is the Evil Manbear in the room, debt.  Pay off your credit cards, student loans, medical debt, parents loan, the dollar you borrowed from the guy at work, the car or monster truck loan, mortgage/investment property(big debate in the personal finance world, but hey MMM our golden boy of retire early paid his home off).  This is just the way it works you need your income to be greater than your expenses by a lot, not I put $100/month in my savings, more like 50%-99% of your income into savings and investment, my preference is my nieces lemonade stand, but there may be better options.  Which leads me to number four in no direct way at all, how’s that for a transition…… my high school English teacher would be proud.
  4. Cut Your Ever-living Expenses.  No cursing needed once again, thanks urbandictionary for the help on not cursing and possibly for my misuse of the word ever-living.  This combines all of your efforts from the previous steps.  We are not all MMM or the Arnold Schwarzenegger of retiring early and defeating all odds, we have debt.  Student loans, credit cards, mortgages and car loans are some of the biggest obstacles, but don’t forget we are cutting our ever-living expenses all of them, because we are not “Girly Men” sorry ladies I don’t think Arnold had a classic saying like Girly Men for the ladies,girly-man1 if he did please tell me in the comments and I will include it.  So we are taking drastic measures to cut our expenses.  What do you mean drastic, like not getting my mani/pedi this weekend?  Drastic……..Sell your car and walk, bike, bus, train, car pool, hitch hike, jet pack, and my personal favorite Kolelinio to work.  OK now that we are taking the zip line to work and saving some cash what else is drastic.  Cut cable and the HD Premier Package because we do not need every single premium channel out there that is just ridiculous.  If you love movies go the library and get them they are free, ask a friend they probably have something you can watch, hey crazy idea cut cable and keep the internet and you still will have 3 million things to watch. OK even crazier idea get the gosh darn out of your house, I’m clearly getting soft with this gosh darn talk.  Yeah check out the park, lake, ocean, forest, mountains, hills, trees, I don’t care just get outside it’s free to be outside, God Bless America.  Great spot to end but I’m way more caffeinated than I should be. More drastic, cut your cell phone bill, but I hear people say I need my Apple phone and my contract is for another 13 years and I call my friends and use the internet to search for beanie babies every day and guess what? This is not a need, not if you want to retire early.  There are options out there anything from no cell phone to simply cutting back.  I’ll write about that another time.  Little victories now become huge Manbear victories, that’s right the Manbear is now your friend and can be used at your discretion to defeat debt and the fun part of the early retirement journey, invest and save BIG, Manbear big!
  5. Wait you said 4 Things. The Title Is 4 Things You Must Do to Retire Early, this is #5 and I now I hear the audience start to think I am a moron and worry about the previous 4 steps being legitimate.  I want you to think of step #5 like the hidden track on a CD you just bought because you listened to all of the songs and the band decided to reward you with something great and put a “secret track” aka #5 on our CD and since you kept reading you came across the best tip of them all.  If you have never heard of such a thing you were probably born in the 90’s and have never heard of Saved By the Bell either, I liked Lisa better than Kelly for those who care.

    If your teacher pops a test you know your in a mess…..

    OK #5, big hidden song, and tip #5.  Save and Earn more money than you currently are.  One of these must happen and if you are on the Even Steven Money plan of retiring early you are doing both.  The more you earn the more you can save, the more you save the faster you can retire. I promised myself I wasn’t going to go on a rant about saving and earning more so I won’t, but remember the reason this is a hidden song at the end of the article is because you accomplished the previous 4 steps, that’s when the song comes up  when you stop spending, know where your money is going, pay off your debt, and cut your expenses.  For those who skipped to the hidden step, go back because in the real world it doesn’t work like that, you don’t just start saving more money because you are the magical wizard of personal finance and money.  These things need to be done, so go back read the steps, make sure you can cross them off your list before getting to the hidden step #5 because that’s what makes the last step so great it’s because you went through the journey of not being a moron, beanie babies, Manbears, and Girly men.

What Manbear did you defeat?  Who do you like better Lisa or Kelly?  Want to invest in my nieces lemonade stand?

25 Responses to “4 Things You Must Do to Retire Early

  • My husband and I are working towards becoming FI and it’s definitely a combo effect of what you listed above Steven. I like having options in life and I clearly know my reasons why I want to achieve FI earlier rather than later in life.
    Kassandra @ More Than Just Money recently posted…Music To My Ears: BelbelMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      3 years ago

      Options, not the chain effect that debt has, keep keeping on More than Just Money!

  • Seriously, dude, if I could zipline to work, I may not want to retire (early, though unfortunately for me I’ve missed that boat due to a manbear of debt).
    debs@debtdebs recently posted…Cutting Cable – Will it Payoff?My Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      3 years ago

      Manbear strikes again. If they create a zipline to work in the Chicago Loop, I’m staying another year ok at least another month before retiring.

  • Very powerful writing style, Steven, even without the swearing! You should add a picture of South Park’s ManBearPig to your post. 🙂

    To retire early you’ll definitely need to apply the 4/5 tips above, otherwise it’ll remain a dream and only a dream. The problem is that a lot of people see reaching early retirement as a sacrafice rather than a way to improve the quality of their life.

    Also, zipline to work? Sign me up!
    No More Waffles recently posted…British American Tobacco (BATS) Stock Analysis: Fairly Valued Dividend PowerhouseMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      3 years ago

      @nomorewaffles I’ll have to check that out, every image I saw on Google did not fit the image in my head. I think it starts out as a sacrifice and turns into a better quality of life, now off to find a zipline in the city!

  • FI is our goal as well but it will take us a while to get there. We are saving a lot and have cut our spending quite a bit, but we are still “living in the moment” which can be pricey sometimes! =)
    Holly@ClubThrifty recently posted…Thoughts on OutsourcingMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      3 years ago

      FI does take time, but the option of 35 years or 7 years is a huge difference in time frame. It is certainly a balance, but living in the moment shouldn’t include a new Range Rover or $300 cell phone, there is just to many other options to achieve financial independence without hanging out with Mark and Buffy at the yacht club.

  • When I stumbled upon MMM, I read all his posts and was in awe. Who would have thought early retirement was possible when the media always says retiring at all was impossible. I’ve been following the above steps and think early retirement is in the cards but not sure about EXTREME early retirement. I think living in NYC is one big obstacle.
    Andrew@LivingRichCheaply recently posted…Should I Renew My AAA Membership?My Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      3 years ago

      Manbear just came in the room, what the crap you don’t think you can do a extreme early retirement, anything less than 35 years if you are 30 is early retirement, I’m calling you out and saying living in NYC is only an excuse, I live in Chicago, where if you want you can buy an $8 beer and can’t get lunch in the loop for less than $10, I think it’s all a choice. If it is not your goal for early retirement then taking taxi’s to the after work happy hour and paying $300 for a parking spot would be the norm.

      • Haha! Manbear! Yes I think MMM also needs to give me a face punch and call me a complainy pants. I don’t think I’ve taken a taxi in my life except for from the airport. Also, my parallel parking skills are no joke.
        Andrew recently posted…Should I Renew My AAA Membership?My Profile

        • EvenStevenMoney
          3 years ago

          Yep just leave all my work up to Manbear, because Even Steven is just trying to claw his way back to living without debt. I feel like you have to be very good at parallel parking in the city otherwise you have no chance except Valet for $20 and I’m sure in the unwritten early retirement rules it specifically says NO Valet.

  • The Evil Manbear is still in the room, but slowly edging towards the door. I do actually need my car for work – honestly, that’s not an excuse. A zipline just wouldn’t work as much as I wish it would! But it is a rusty old nail and we only have the one car between us. No intention of leasing a range rover thank goodness! 🙂
    Hayley @ Disease Called Debt recently posted…Life After Debt: Planning Ahead For Our Debt Free FutureMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      3 years ago

      I think everyone is different in this for work, not everyone lives in the city or lives close to work, but choices are available they are a little more sacrifice but it can be done. For example I needed to drive to work about 3 or 4 years ago, however I did not need a 20K loan on my used Benz. There are other paths available even if zip-line isn’t your transportation to work.

  • We are continuing to work on doing many of these. We don’t pay with credit cards to go on our vacation, but we do love to travel. We budget for that expense though.

    • EvenStevenMoney
      3 years ago

      Travel is a give and take during debt repayment and financial independence. We love to travel as well, we tend to stay away from trips to Europe staying in 5 star hotels, but travel is included. Thanks for stopping by @fitnpoor

  • By tracking your income and expenses, it would definitely be a big help to reach your FI goal. I already cut my cable last year and I’m happy with it. 🙂
    Clarisse @ Make Money Your Way recently posted…How to turn your home into a rentalMy Profile

  • To retire early.. You are likely going to have to find ways to earn more money than you earn today.
    Mr. MM is certainly making it look easy..
    jefferson recently posted…Where Do You See Yourself in 25 Years?My Profile

    • I agree, you have to increase income and decrease the monthly expenses. Increase the spread, so to speak.

      Of course MMM makes it look easy, earning over 6 figures in a low cost of living area. But there are still great tips from the website nonetheless that can help save money. But for the most part I have moved on, there probably won’t be any earth shattering information he can provide to me at this point that will make me alter my course.
      Kipp recently posted…The Layers of an Emergency FundMy Profile

      • EvenStevenMoney
        3 years ago

        Same reason I listen to Dave Ramsey every day, sometimes I need a reminder that I have to step up my game to retire early. I’m hoping that in time I can retire early and and of course supplant MMM, probably grow a beard and only zip line because that’s far better than a mustache and a bike!

    • EvenStevenMoney
      3 years ago

      By earn you mean invest in income producing or where your money can grow, because I don’t necessarily think that if I make 50K that if I make 60K I will have a better chance of retiring early. I don’t think it can hurt, but it’s all relative to how much you are saving of that 50K or 60K and I’d even argue that if I save 50% of 50K or 50% of 60K and my expenses are the same percentage in each scenario, it only speeds up your early retirement date if I made the same amount for the entire retire early journey.

      • Well, my assumption would be that you would avoid lifestyle inflation, so adding another $10k in income would in effect boost your savings rate thereby making it a quicker process. But you are correct, it does matter on your savings rate. If you save 25k of 50k or 50k of 100k in would take the same amount of time.
        Kipp recently posted…The Layers of an Emergency FundMy Profile

  • Follow these steps and you will @#$@#$ win!

    Great use of emphasistic words. I made that word up.
    Wade recently posted…A stroll through FargoMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      3 years ago

      I love the energy! I feel like anyone who would harness that energy for good would retire early, so proceed with making up all the words you like.

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